It's hard to tell what a team will be after its first practice.
There's so much going on, so much new, even for players who are veterans in a program.
Coaches bring new things to the table, players have grown and evolved both physically and mentally.
That's probably why the start of practice can be so exciting. Everything is fresh, everything is on the table, there's so much possibility coming into the season.
Watching the first practices for both the Quincy University and Culver-Stockton College football teams reminded me of that, there was such a positive vibe in the air, so much optimism. Players were flying around, giving it their all and genuinely happy to be back in their element.
Of course, there were also mistakes, and that has to happen to get better.
Before you put pads on, before you lace up the cleats, before you take the field, pitch, court or course, you have to mess up. You have to fail.
So as the high schools on both sides of the river start practice this week, keep that in mind. There's such a mentality in sports that when one thing goes wrong a snowball effect will happen, and that doesn't have to be the case.
That goes for fans, players and coaches alike. Nobody can do things perfectly every time, that's why you practice.
Both the Hawks and Wildcats had plenty of times where something didn't go right. Someone missed a blocking assignment, someone dropped a pass, someone let a receiver outside of them and that led to a big gain.
But you know what? They lined up again, they ran another play, they got better and their teammates and coaches were there to help them get better.
A new year starts today for the high schools in the area, and there's going to be success and failure for everyone.
Nobody is going to win a championship on the first day of practice, but that is where the building blocks of a successful season begin.